Saturday, 20 July 2013

Dealing with PUPPP

During the latter stages of my pregnancy I became victim of this awful condition. PUPPP - Short for Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy is also known as PEP in the UK - short for Polymorphic Eruption of Pregnancy. It is not a widely known condition so I feel a blog post about it is needed for any unfortunate ladies to experience it, to try help them understand what it is and how to cope with it.

PUPPP generally starts in the third trimester and is a severe itch and rash all over your body. It generally starts on the bump and can often start as itching in the stretch marks as it did with me. It then spreads all over your body and can look and feel as if you've fallen in a nettle bush naked, although it generally avoids the face.

The only way I can describe it is a burning itch all over your body that you just have to scratch HARD. So hard that you will make yourself bleed. I have scars all over my legs when I itched so hard it caused deep gashes in my skin. The most annoying thing is people telling you to 'just not itch'. Like its that easy!! It ruled my life for around 4 months, and even carried on for around 6 weeks after I gave birth. Most mothers have relief just hours after giving birth and the rash starts to alleviate, but it stuck around for a while for me! It kept me awake all night, had me begging at doctors to give me an early c-section so it would go away, rolling around on the floor crying because it burnt that much. It is truly awful.

It is more common in ladies carrying multiples and recent research shows most ladies go on to have baby boys. I carry on this theory too and my dermatologist said that some studies think that it can be to do with the extra testosterone due to having a boy - although this has not been 100% proven yet. The actual cause is unknown and it carries no long term risk for mother or baby.

The short term effects however are soul destroying. No other way to describe it. GP's don't know much about it, I must have visited 10 different GP's trying to get help, crying and begging for them to make the itch stop. It wasn't until after I gave birth that one GP wanted to help and referred me to see a specialist dermatologist in a hospital, although he also did not know much about it he could at least give me a diagnosis.

I was prescribed lots of various creams and tried lots of things to try take the itch away. The things I found that help were:

  • 100% natural aloe vera gel. Spread all over your body and blow a fan on yourself to cool your skin and rash down
  • Dandelion root capsules. These did seem to calm my rash down a tad, but many sufferers swear by it. It is all natural so well worth a try.
  • Lukewarm baths. I swore by this personally. It was the only way I could comfortably hold Jacob when he was little and I still had my rash.
  • Oilatum to add to the bath, to try bring a bit of moisture back into the skin after itching it so much
  • Wetting a towel, ringing it out and draping it over your most itchy parts. This was how I had to sleep (well - the little sleep I did anyway)
  • You will itch in your sleep, and most likely cause yourself to bleed like I did so use old bedsheets, and sleep on a towel to soak the blood up
  • Being naked. I know this is an odd one, but my god clothes make it worse. Especially bra's or any tight clothing. If I did wear clothes it was loose cotton.
I will be totally honest here. I think PUPPP was a big part of post-natal depression for me. I couldn't breastfeed because it hurt to have him touching my skin. I couldn't bond properly with him by having cuddles because my skin was so sore I would bleed when I cuddled him. The baths together were our saviour. I could look into his little newborn eyes and tell him how much I loved him. I did bond with Jacob, but struggled so much with my skin. For this reason mainly, I think PUPPP needs to be researched more & become more well known so mothers can get help from GP's instead of just being huffed at for being there again, sent away with some E45 and being told its 'just a normal allergy that will go away in a couple of days'!

Wrapped in a towel to be able to cuddle my baby!
As you can see the scars on my legs were very visible - this was about 3 months after giving birth
14 months on - you can barely see the scars! yay!
Just a few images of what the rash was like in action at its worst
You can see the rash on my arm here 
There is hope for ladies with scars - 14 months on since I gave birth and my pock mark like scars are much less noticeable. I used the well known bio oil and plenty of exposure. I really think sun helps scars fade.

Please - anyone suffering with this horrible condition don't be afraid to contact me for any advice or support. I hope this blog post will be helpful to any sufferers out there!

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